Unemployed? The First Five Things to Do by John Patankia

You were busy with countless projects. You had emails to answer, calls to make, meetings to attend. You had deadlines. Real problems needed real solutions. But then the meeting came. You were told of the layoff. It might have been hard to believe at first. As you were packing it still didn't sink in. It took a couple of days but it finally settled in. The emails, phone calls, and meetings were now suddenly a distant memory.

The deadlines, which seemed so crucial a few days ago, now were hard to even recall. What's next? It's all about you now. You need to turn your attention away from the past and start looking at the opportunity in front of you. These are basic but you need to start with the basics and expand from there. Here are the top five things you need to do in the first week:

1. Make sure your health care needs are met If you are covered under a spouse's plan now is the time to file that paperwork. If not, your company should have given you information on how to participate in COBRA. Normally, under COBRA, you must pay for the entire cost of your healthcare plan. The costs can be high. A family plan will cost more than $1100 per month. However, the recent stimulus packages allow the government to pay for 65 percent of that plan for the first 9 months of your unemployment. That can be a big help. If you cannot get on COBRA you may need to purchase healthcare directly. Either way, you need to find a way to provide healthcare for your family. You don't want a bad situation turning worse.

2. Assess your personal financial situation Take a close look at your monthly expenses, your separation package, and your unemployment compensation. Based on your monthly expenses and your unemployment compensation how long will your savings last? We all have certain criteria for a new job including commute distance, salary, benefits, size of the company, and level of responsibility. But when the savings starts to become depleted those criteria have a tendency to change. You become a little more flexible. Analyzing your personal financial situation early on will help anticipate changes to your criteria.

3. Get your resume started You will certainly need a resume. In this economy you will need a great one. Your resume is not simply a listing of your past jobs and education, it is your personal sales brochure. There is plenty of great advice for constructing a resume in our How To and Your Brand sections. Registered members can also upload their resume and get very valuable feedback from the community. Register now for access to this great service.

4. Start building your network A modern job search is much more than posting your resume on a job board. The recruiters which used to scour the job boards for resume are now inundated with resumes. You need be much more proactive. If you haven't already, join LinkedIn and start to build your personal network. Make sure your friends, family, and former colleagues know you are looking for the next place to shine.

5. Develop a search plan Even though your network is in place you need a plan. A strategy. Can you contact former employers? You'll want to sign up for several job boards, submit your resume, and schedule daily email alerts. Job search services like indeed or simply hired are very useful because they can find jobs that you can't.

The stress can certainly be lessened if you have the basics covered early. Understanding your financial and healthcare situation and having a solid resume, a good network, and a search plan are all important. Once that is all in place you can approach the next chapter of your life with excitement instead of fear. You can get a chance to spend time with your children. Take a small vacation. Volunteer. Read. Relax. Maybe even take the time to tell your layoff story to the world.

[the website cannot be found] is great place to discuss your unemployment. You can also find articles on resume creation, personal branding, and interviewing techniques. Memberships are free and allow subscribers to upload their resume for community feedback, blog their personal layoff story, network, and learn about the latest job trends.

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